From new graduate to field guide student

From new graduate to field guide student

BY Juandre Grobler, Bushwise field guide student

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow field guide students) for a period of one week.

When I first arrived at Bushwise I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I was just out of school and suddenly taking this big step into adulthood. For an introvert like myself, it’s extremely difficult to meet new people and make friends. Being surrounded by new field guide students and trainers in a whole new area far from home was very overwhelming.

Two Bushwise students sharing binoculars at a sighting.

From the start, the trainers were all very generous and helpful. I could easily talk to them, and they are understanding. With all this stress and pressure, they introduced us to our campus and made us feel at home even though we were far from our own. We started off with extremely fun and entertaining activities like a snake lecture (and handling)  and experienced our very first game drive with Bushwise.

Track and sign was my favourite activity by far. It’s all about understanding what happened at a certain spot and creating a story, and thinking like an animal. It’s an amazing experience and to get a level for it felt pretty satisfying. 

I was totally amazed to see Colin Patrick and his dog Koda in action and how well mannered and trained she is. Alongside the fun of the practical experience, we worked through the theory. It’s a lot of work, which scared us at first, but with the support of our trainers we all passed our exams with flying colours. 

Bushwise field guide students visited Koda, a member of the K9 unit.)

During my time here as a field guide student, I have learned a lot of things. How to safely and responsibly use a rifle as a trails guide. How to drive a 2.5-tonne vehicle up and down mountains with ease, while keeping all of my guests safe and comfortable. How to professionally serve guests and be positive even if I’m stressed or tired. There are so many things that I learned– both for the industry and for my personal life. You definitely get to look at life in a different way. 

In our free time, we still got up to a lot, like getting rid of a wasps’ nest that caused an outage in one of the rooms. Listening to music and doing exercises in front of someone’s room without even realising they were sleeping. Searching and using our skills in tracking to find a kill from a leopard. And even though we all come from different histories and lives, we all come together as one big family and sit around the fire at night and share our stories. What an experience.

Bushwise field guide students exploring a water hole in the bushveld.

The staff are definitely the heart of Bushwise. The amount of advice and support they give us is inexplicable. They treat us as friends and shape our guiding characters. Without them, I don’t think this campus would be the way that it is. You can truly see that they have a passion for what they are doing and that they really care for students. They know when to be friends, and when to be professional. Rose, Pulane, Iris and Philip are kind people that you want to be friends with as they look after us and campus. With our time as students on Bushwise coming closer to an end, it’s beginning to feel sad here as this place has grown on us. 

Bushwise field guide students on a game viewer during a course lesson.

I would recommend Bushwise to anyone who would want to be in the industry. At first it’s scary, but you soon become a family and meet amazing people. You also learn a lot of things in a short time and doing this course is worth every cent. 

From new graduate to field guide student – does this sound like you? Chat with us and start your field guide journey!